Reclaiming Your Life with Neurogenic Bladder and Bowel
JoAnne Lake and Julia Parker
Triumph Media Press (241 pp.)
ISBN: 978-0-99-643054-8; December 1, 2015
Lake’s debut offers a candid memoir of her experience with neurogenic bladder and a wealth of practical advice about coping with its daily complications.
Five million Americans suffer from neurogenic bladder, which has symptoms and stigmas similar to incontinence. It occurs when nerves between the brain and bladder are damaged, often due to spinal injury or prolonged vaginal delivery of a baby. Lake, a Seattle-based special needs educator, had several strikes against her, including heavy lifting during her youth on a California farm, a difficult first labor, a hysterectomy that included removal of her cervix, and back surgery
on a herniated disk. By age 55, her pain was intense enough to require a urologist’s attention. It turned out that urine retention had stretched her bladder and left her prone to frequent infections, so Lake now had to use an intermittent catheter for every bathroom visit.
This book arose from her anonymous blog, begun in 2012 under the name “Trudy Triumph.” By revealing herself as an NB sufferer and discussing it in detail, she reassures others that they’re not alone: “I see toileting dysfunction as a last frontier of topics that need to have mature acceptance and an active audience,” she says. The text, attractively laid out with leaf motifs and inset boxes, is packed with helpful tips on diet, exercise, hygiene, and intimacy issues. A nitty-gritty chapter on urinary devices and aids recommends adult diapers and special toilet seats and provides a diagram for inserting a female catheter. While useful, however, some sections aren’t always pleasant reading for the squeamish.
The book’s second part, “Blog Chatter,” is less essential, but its reader testimonials reveal the diversity of NB experiences. Lake seems clued-in and research-savvy, so she might have been able to write the “Knowledge Nuggets” and answer the reader Q&As without “Biosleuth” Julia Parker on board as a medical consultant. Appendices list suggested products, books, and websites, and the glossary is especially useful. Epigraphs from the Bible add an appropriate inspirational aspect, with Lake encouraging readers to see “setbacks a bit like sea glass….As we
encounter adversity, we are forced to adapt and grow.”
An invaluable resource for NB sufferers.